If Only I'd Thought at the Door

It’s Wildwing’s birthday today. I keep trying not to think about it, about how I won’t be there for only the second time in my whole life, but after a week of it, I’m not sure how much longer I can keep it up. What does he want this year? What thing could I have given him to make him smile? I’m the present expert, he always likes my presents the best, always. Always used to.

This year maybe he wants me back. Home. Though, it’s only his home. I don’t belong there anymore.

Duke visited Rance. I want to visit Wildwing. Why can he visit his brother, and I can’t visit mine?

Okay, that was different. His brother isn’t as likely to lock him up and refuse to let him return to the Brotherhood as mine is. Actually, I don’t think Rance wants anything to do with Duke. Not like me and Wildwing at all.

I think it’s raining outside. I can’t hear it, of course, not all the way down here, but the halls are a little wet from footprints, and that’s generally the indicator.

I could go. I really could. I wouldn’t be caught if I came back quickly. It’d be great, just to talk to Wildwing, Grin, Tanya, and talking to Mallory in her right mind…If she has one.

Sighing, moving to lie down on the bed. Hands behind head, staring at the ceiling, which is someone else’s floor.

I could go. If I left, surely Duke wouldn’t let them kill me. I’d never betray them. They’re my friends too. But I can’t live their lives.

Leave? Since when was this leaving? I just want to see my old family, just for an hour. Is that really too much to ask?

This is all my fault. Instead of thinking for even one second at that door, I leaped right in without thinking. Kinda reminds me of an earlier instance. I never learn.

The sad, sorry fact is that if I let myself go enough to see him, them, I’d never come back except on the point of a saber.

There has to be something I can do! It’s his birthday! After all these years, I owe him that much and more.

Idea. Scrabbling for the pack of photos Sparky developed for me before. I remember one, one I can send him. There. That one. If I just grab these scissors and cut Lyric off the edge…Wouldn’t want to get her in any trouble…There. Looking at it. I’m smiling. Waving at the camera, looking right at it. I can see right into my own eyes. This is something that Wildwing will love to have. Maybe I can send him one every year. Just to show him that I’m okay, how I’m doing. Where’s some paper? I’ll write a note.

That’s it. Yeah, let’s see…Sucking on the end of the pen. It’s hard to know where to start.

Dear Wildwing,
It’s me, the one and only! Don’t give me that look, I promise I’m not catching Duke’s ego (yeah, I’m with him, though I’m sure Mal told you).
Happy birthday bro! You thought I’d forget, didn’t you? Well, I didn’t. So, once again, I’ve proven you wrong.
In case it makes a difference, I’d love to be there helping you blow out the candles. I miss you. But we both know that we probably won’t ever talk again. It’s not the way I want it, but they gave me a choice and I jumped in without thinking. Again.
Geeze, I’m being a party pooper! Tell Tanya and Grin hi, and tell Mallory I’m really sorry. I’m sure Duke’d say hi too, but I’m not sure where he is right now. I hope they treat heroes well on their birthday. Ask for a condo or something, it could come in handy.
Maybe I’ll see you around. You won’t see me, but I might be somewhere, if you understand.

Well, that’s that. Shoving it and the photo in an envelope. Pausing. Seeing one of the little gems I scored the other night. Grabbing it, and putting it in the envelope too. For the heck of it, which is the only reason I need around here for some things.

I regret this. Oh, I regret staying here. They handed me a life sentence, and I signed on the bottom line. What an idiot! Maybe this is all they could have had, but I had a future! Things could have gone my way so easily. Instead I planted myself in Duke’s trap, or one very the same.

I’ll bet Wildwing regrets things too. He’d regret letting Duke take me on as an apprentice back on Earth. Who knew it’d go like this?

I wonder. Did Duke foresee this, back on Earth? For some niggling reason I think he did. He should have told me.

Little reflective story thing by Rachel Baker ’99. All characters Copyright Disney, and used without permission.